Thursday, May 24, 2018

Walrusman Action Figure

Sliver of glass hidden carefully
beneath my tongue, just in case,
I strolled down the alley, past the smoldering box spring
where the hog was roasted.  Threw an acorn at a radiator
lying on its side in an empty swimming pool,
smiled at the echoing ping

It was 1977 and my brother and I were waiting
for Christmas, we already had R2 and Han
I didn't expect to tear open the paper and be presented
with, not Luke or Leia, but
Walrusman for God's sake, I remember how smooth
his plastic arms and chest were, he came with a blue blaster
I remember that disappointment

Just a few years later we were dancing
with the future corpse of Michael Jackson
in the living room, bored by the stock car races
at the speedway where my grandfather did handywork
all we really liked were the parachutes
The heart is a steep, narrow staircase
with lots of sharp turns and no banister
These days it’s all self-driving cars,
facial recognition software,
a goatherd using a drone to tend his flock.
Nowadays the action figures are a lot more elaborate,
and are joined by sexy teenage monster dolls
with day-glo skin. The swap meet of my memory
is in flames. I find myself willing to shell out
hundreds of dollars for a chance to free Walrusman
from his blister pack coffin again
I’d even settle for Hammerhead

Friday, May 18, 2018

Pisces Ring

In movies, nothing good ever happens in a parking garage.

I thought about the size I wanted to fit it in, the shape
I could almost picture it taking on. Would it move? If so,
what kind of movements could I see it making?

One angry river flows into another. She dressed very modestly
except for that one time and that one time was all
I wanted to think about.

We've had it easy for so long. It's going to be hard to adjust,
hard to let go. Paint scraped from the side of the shed.
Couple sitting side by side not for the proximity
but so that they don't have to face one another.
Crystal goblets thrown into the sack with the bricks.

I don't want to ponder the crux, the core. I want to linger
on the periphery, skim across the surface.
You couldn't keep from pressing your eye up to the hole
to peer at the life you hadn't thought worth pursuing.

Did she ever get someone to crawl under the deck
and look for the Pisces ring she dropped
when she took it off and it fell off the table
and rolled between the cracks?

I thought something would click into place by now.
The light changed so quickly and I slept through it all.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Even the Hard to Reach Spots

The office split her open. The dots swarmed
all over her. The idiots got back from lunch
even later than usual, sweating sweet licorice
from every one of their gargantuan pores.
She closed her eyes and caught a whiff of California.
Suntan oil, jacaranda. A stunted lemon tree bowing
before someone's driveway.

I wasn't built for love, she said.
I don’t know if I even know how to love. I used to think
I did, but I may have been deluding myself.
Is it too late to learn? Movies tell us no,
that everyone has love in their hearts and can find a way
of sharing it with the world. It sort of reeks of bullshit though.
Do I really want to love, she asked, or have I just
convinced myself I should?

Later I saw her from across the lobby and waved
but she didn't see me. I thought she was covering her mouth
to keep from crying, but it was actually to keep from laughing
as her manager punched the elevator button over and over
as if that might make it arrive faster

Shortly afterwards, she apologized, said
I've just been distracted by my attempts
to lick myself clean, even the hard to reach spots,
and the human body is mostly hard to reach spots.

After work she went to that garden statue place
around the corner from the fried chicken place
and across the street from the art supply place.
She wandered up and down the aisles
of cement saints and pelicans,
terra cotta pots, cast iron flamingos.
She knocked over a wire goose,
it fell with a bang and bent its neck.
She laughed as she righted it, then flapped her wings
and texted her boss to let him know
she quit.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Annual Wellness Exam

Waiting for the doctor in the examination room
One wall is robin’s egg blue, the other three somewhere between
gray and beige with a tinge of green
The computer is on an arm mounted to the wall
along with an assortment of various instruments and devices
Signs taped all over, “Important Medicare Part D Benefit Info”
“Please Help Us Keep This Office Fragrance Free”
This world so small, so confined
A tiny sink like in every exam room, though I’ve never seen anyone
turn on the faucet. Think of all the people who live
with no running water, when every room in this complex
is fully equipped with miniature sinks that are perpetually dry.
My attention keeps being drawn
to a plank of fake wood, mounted on the wall.
4 feet long and 3 feet or so off the ground. A chair is sitting
with its back against it. Is that what it’s for, to keep the back of the chair
from scraping the paint of the wall? If so, why is there only one plank
on one wall (not the robin’s egg blue one) and not the one
I’m sitting against in my own chair, the wall I can hear
voices coming through?
Other voices also bleed through the door across from me.
The plank matches the cabinets, is made of the same fake wood
but seems to be neither functional nor particularly decorative.
I can’t guess why it’s there. The longer I wait for the doctor
the more it bothers me. Should I ask her when she finally arrives?
She probably doesn’t know, and she’ll think I’m crazier
than she already does. Hours later
I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s eating away at me.
The pointlessness of it all, the waste of it all,
the mystery that numbs rather than stimulates
the imagination, what does it mean, what is it for
what is any of it for

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

From a (redacted) Like a (redacted)

This should be blacked out, covered with censor bars,
like a classified government document

I only see the words when I close my eyes
A swarm of black bricks emptying the sky

Mosquitoes alight on speech balloons,
leaving them hissing. Lungs leak language

Clouds obscure the billboards. Puffs of winter breath.
Neon struggles to be read through the mist.

Street signs pixelated, house numbers blurred.
Graffiti hides within its own illegible knots

Your name an absence, a stencil better left empty,
unspoken. I'll only have to rescind it, scribble it out,
attempt to forget how to pronounce it.

Monday, April 30, 2018

And Denied Him Further Communions

You trapped that creature within you,
imprisoned it with your gaze.
You cruel hunter! To separate
such a magnificent specimen
from the landscape it thrives in
is unspeakably sadistic.
It would be less cruel to butcher that wild beast,
hang its hide on your wall, eat its flesh,
make talismans of its horns, teeth, bones.
But no, you insist on keeping it
alive and confined,
where you can look at it all the time,
watch it pace within
the cell of your eye.

Look away. Let the wild thing escape,
run free. If you look at it too long
you will no longer see it. It will not survive.
You will remember it better when you stop gazing at it.
It can only be yours to love if you dare to shut your eyes.

Little Hope for the Honeysuckle

 It’s been one of those manic-depressive Spring days
Pouring rain, blazing sunlight, pounding hail.
Sky crammed full of clouds.
My friend drove me to the nursery so I could replace the plants
I killed last year, everything but the indestructible hens and chicks
and the S-shaped maple sapling.
Overwhelmed by the lushness, I wanted to buy everything
even though I knew I’d probably inadvertently butcher them all.
I flit from shrub to shrub like an insect, afraid to commit.
I settle on a dwarf bush-honeysuckle and a pot of bearded irises,
which I’ve always been fond of. I may not be capable of love
but I find myself soften roaming the aisles of vegetation.
Nature isn’t uniformly brutal.
Over dinner, my friend shows me photos of her cat,
missing a full month now. She seems to be accepting the fact
that he’s probably gone forever.  I need to make peace
with things as well. The fact that I’m a twisted thing myself,
fruitless, flowerless, permanently stunted
from so many years of being buffeted by the wind.
Selfish, loveless, passive. That I look and take
and give nothing back. No wonder all my green children wither.
At least they don't run away. 
I have little hope for this new adopted flora.
By autumn it will just be me and my maple out there
on the balcony, the wind rustling our leaves.